Venezuela suffers from a profound and multifaceted crisis. Years of mismanagement have led to a crippling economic contraction and an inflation rate projected to reach 1,000,000 percent in 2018. Citizens are chronically short of food and medicine and face some of the world’s highest levels of violence. The governing regime has systematically dismantled democratic checks and balances, consolidating power through fraudulent elections, violent repression and the cynical use of scarcity as a tool of control.
Unsurprisingly, Venezuelans are fleeing, generating the largest refugee and migration flow in the history of the Western Hemisphere — more than 1.6 million people since 2015. Most have sought refuge within Latin America, but Venezuelans are now also the leading requesters of asylum in the United States and Spain. With no end in sight for the economic, humanitarian and governance crisis in Venezuela, the forced migration challenge will only grow.
The regional response to Venezuelan refugees and migrants has been marked by a spirit of solidarity. Latin American countries — particularly neighbouring Colombia, where authorities report receiving 5,000 Venezuelans per day — have taken important steps to ensure freedom of movement and to provide avenues for legal stay and access to basic rights for those fleeing Venezuela. Nonetheless, many significant challenges to effective response remain. Meeting them requires reinforcing the existing regional solidarity toward Venezuelan refugees and migrants and combining it with greater creativity, collective responsibility and political will from the international community. This report aims to galvanize such an effort and offers concrete proposals for action.